Trucks, tractors, ATVs, various equine and even a few friendly dogs made their way through downtown Cave Spring on Thursday morning for the 34th annual Independence Day Parade.

Several hundred parade-goers lined up along Cave Spring Road and Alabama Street to enjoy the sights and sounds, with patriotic music playing and kids collecting candy being thrown from vehicles and floats.

LaRae Martin, who has been part of the festivities since the beginning, said she’s only missed a few of the parades through the years.

“It’s a great community spirit and we love the camaraderie,” Martin said, before jumping into a patriotically decorated ATV with her family to join the parade route. “We see people sometimes we haven’t seen in 30 years. We love it, love it, love it!”

Charles Jackson and his wife Christa, also frequent parade participants, split up this year with husband pulling a literal boatload of grandchildren, and wife walking the route dressed as Lady Liberty.

“We’ve been doing the boat for several years,” said Charles Jackson. “I’ve got 10 grandkids who ride in it. It’s fun and you don’t have to worry about falling out.” Jackson’s mother Louise, 95, also accompanied the kids in the family boat.

“We have folks that come every year,” said Christa Jackson. “This year we’re carrying a flag that was flown over the U.S.S. Constitution not too long ago.”

Participation in the annual parade isn’t just a local affair. The Bridges family has been driving all the way from Macon for two decades to enjoy the festivities.

“It’s just pure fun,” said Ben Bridges. “It’s fun for us to walk in the parade, but it’s also fun to see the reactions on the faces in the crowd.”

Ben, along with his wife Sylvia and their two sons Wilson, 14, and Henry, 9, make the trip to Northwest Georgia annually. The family walked this year’s parade route, greeting onlookers and waving small American flags.

“We’ve only missed one in 20 years. It’s an amazing community outpouring for a fun event,” said Ben.

Fittingly Henry’s birthday falls on July 4, so the Independence Day Parade is always part of his birthday celebration.

Thursday’s parade saw a brief pause in front of Martha Jane’s Fudge Shop on Alabama Street as Rip Montgomery crowned the shop’s namesake “Queen of Fudge,” honoring her 40 years of fudge-making in Cave Spring.

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